All that work for two days. Or in my case for 8 nights. Are you happy that Christmas is over or are you sad? There are definitely two types of people.
Maybe you are happy Christmas is over. All the work and expectations are off your shoulders. Parenthood is enough work without the added work of the holidays. You stayed up too late doing too much and ate too much and are happy it’s over. Now you can hopefully get back to eating healthier and getting some sleep.
Maybe you are sad that Christmas is over. I remember at 13 years old looking forward to my Bat Mitzvah. I looked forward to it for so many months and then it was over. It was such a let down. Some kids and parents are feeling sad that it’s over. On the 5th night of Chanukah my daughter Lillie was sad. She said there were only a few nights left and she didn’t want it to end.
Maybe you are feeling relief. I know that I am. As a Jewish person Christmas can be a hard season. When I was young it was much harder. Everyone talks about Christmas. Christmas decorations are everywhere you look. Most of the people that I meet are Christian. It’s funny how excited I get when I meet a fellow Jew. When I joined the mom’s club one of the mom’s said that I needed to meet another mom who was Jewish. It’s so funny how they think they need to bring us together, but they are right. We do need each other and we became very close friends. Having friend’s like her makes me feel like I’m not alone. Especially this time of year. It can feel lonely as a Jew during Christmas. I would walk into a store and see the small Chanukah section and laugh to myself. The positive way of thinking is to appreciate that there are any Chanukah decorations, but some negative thinking would sneak in as I turned my nose up at the tiny section that they give us. It’s better than nothing I keep telling myself.
If you’re happy Christmas is over then you are moving along with your life and enjoying that you have less on your plate. If you’re sad its over I want to tell you some of the best advice my mother gave me. Plan the next thing. When you are feeling sad it’s time to make a plan. Be happy that it happened, treasure the memories, and move on to the next exciting thing.
Let’s say that you are like me, and you feel relieved. Maybe you felt excluded from Christmas or maybe there is something else that you are feeling excluded from. My way of coping was to join in on the fun. Want to build a gingerbread house? Let’s do it. You want an elf that moves around the house? Let’s do it. It may be Mensch on the bench but at least I gave my children something. I got a request for a Jewish elf this year from my daughter so maybe I will look for one for next year. If it’s ugly sweater day at school, I may not be able to find one at any of the stores, but I will order Chanukah sweaters for next year and join in the fun. I may not be able to find a Chanukah Squishmallow, so I ordered a couple. 10 or more Christmas Squishmallows were everywhere I looked! Loving Christmas lights = put some up. My way of coping is to join in the fun. My husband doesn’t agree and doesn’t see the need for this. He likes being Jewish and doesn’t feel left out. I just join in the fun as a method to help me cope with the season and feel included. It works for me even though he gave me a big no to a Chanukah tree. I think ornaments are so pretty. My friend gave me a Chanukah stand for my ornaments. It’s not a tree!
The common theme I heard this year is that a lot of stuff didn’t get done. I’m against bucket lists. I’m the anti-bucket list person. I don’t like when people post their summer bucket lists. That seems like a lot of pressure to me to get things done. Since I have done away with bucket lists I have enjoyed my summer a lot more. I feel like it’s the same for Christmas. Mothers make imaginary Christmas bucket lists. They think that they have to: bake cookies, send out cards, make homemade gifts, buy lists and lists of gifts, make a gingerbread house, look at Christmas lights and the list goes on and on and on. Why do we do this? We are setting ourselves up for some extremely high expectations.
My friend told me her Christmas cards are late. There is no late. My other friend told me that she still hasn’t looked at Christmas lights. There is still time. How I succeeded this year is I took off deadlines. I didn’t think I had to get my cards out by a certain date. I did them in chunks and I just finished. I’m actually not even finished buying gifts. My dad’s nice slippers didn’t fit him, so I returned them and am venturing out tomorrow to buy him different gifts. I’m not done and that’s okay. All these imaginary deadlines. In fact, I’m headed out to meet my friends to exchange gifts and it’s after Christmas. There is no deadline.
You still have time. If you didn’t get to baking, do it now. If you didn’t get to Christmas lights, do it now. If you didn’t’ make a gingerbread house, do it tomorrow. If you are feeling done, be done and be okay with whatever you did. People don’t expect from you. I don’t expect you to show up with gifts for me. I bet you most other people agree. Do what you can.
Maybe you don’t like the holiday season because of a significant loss in your family. I can only imagine how much sadness the holidays bring up for you. However, I hope that you still found the joy in Christmas. Whoever you lost is hoping that you can still enjoy the holiday with your family. Your kids want a happy mama. It’s healthy to feel your feelings and for your family to see your sadness. It’s also good to look at the beautiful people in front of you who want to celebrate holidays with you.
I hope that we can all reflect on the holiday season and think about what we learned from it. I learned that it all tends to get done and that if it doesn’t that’s ok too. I learned that my friends put a lot of pressure on themselves. As my friend’s new magnet says, I hope that you will, “Do more of what you love.” Do less of what you don’t want to do and do more of what you want to do. If you want to do it. Go for it. Ask yourself questions. What means the most to me during the holiday season? What is important? What can I let slide? What do I realistically have time for? What can I skip to make my life easier? What do I really enjoy doing? I didn’t get to Chanukah cookies yet but there is still time if I want to. My girls and I love to bake. We baked a Chanukah challah, fudge and snickerdoodle cookies. That is enough. You are enough. You do enough. Do less and do more of what you love. What you accomplish during Christmas isn’t what makes it magical. Spending time with your loved ones is what makes it magical.
I hope you had a happy healthy Christmas and I’m wishing you a very happy and healthy new year. Prayers for this to be a wonderful and less stressful year ahead.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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